In early February, a group of senior city and county staff from Compact partners met with Florida legislative and executive branch leaders in Tallahassee. The primary focus of the outreach was to increase state investment of time and resources in climate resilience activity.
The main event was a resiliency briefing for legislators arranged by Rep. Kristin Jacobs (District 96), one of the founders of the Compact in 2009, during her service as a Broward County Commissioner. Dr. Jennifer Jurado, Chief Resilience Officer and Director of Broward’s Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division, delivered the presentation to a bipartisan group of 16 legislators.
Dr. Jurado explained how the effects of rising sea levels, changing precipitation and storm patterns, and inadequate infrastructure threaten the state. She emphasized the need for a holistic approach to these interconnected challenges, noted the potential economic gains from investing in resilience, and highlighted the Compact’s model of regional collaboration.
Compact colleagues were present in the room to offer additional comments and expertise. They included: Roman Gastesi, Monroe County Administrator; Jim Murley, Chief Resilience Officer of Miami-Dade County; Megan Houston, Director of the Palm Beach County Office of Resilience, and Marcia Montserrat, City of Miami Beach Chief of Staff.
In addition, the Compact team met with Adrian Lukis, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor; Noah Valenstein, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Sen. Debbie Mayfield, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government; Julia Dietz, Environmental Policy Coordinator, Executive Office of the Governor; Courtney Drummond, Chief Engineer, Florida Department of Transportation; and legislative affairs staff from Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Discussions with the various individuals and agencies differed slightly, but all were focused on the need for the state to significantly advance its own climate resilience activity and partner with city and county governments to enhance local resilience efforts. Compact members also offered support for and endorsement of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s creation of an office of resilience and positions of chief science officer and chief resilience officer.